Maureen Johnson is very active on social media. If you don’t follow her on twitter, I recommend you do because she’s kinda hilarious. Anyway, because of her internet celebrity, her books are not exactly unknown but for whatever reason, she’s not a big seller as some of her author friends like Cassandra Clare and John Green. I’ll admit that I haven’t read her other books. Yes, they are in my stacks and I will get to them but I do adore this series. The Name of the Star, and the Madness Underneath are the first two books. The Shadow Cabinet is being released in the US today. The fourth book doesn’t have a title yet. I haven’t had a chance to read The Shadow Cabinet yet because I thought I would wait until the actually release date. Also I couldn’t get a hold of an ARC. That’s ok, it has given my time to reread the first two.
The Shades of London is about Rory, a girl from Louisiana who’s parents have decided to do a work sabbatical in England so she decides to go to school at Wexford College in London. She arrives in just as London is swept under Ripper Fever. A copycat killer has taken to recreating the Jack the Rippers murders in the East End, which just happens to be the same place that Wexford is located. Through a series of events, Rory gets swept into the Jack the Ripper investigation. She soon discovers that the world is far more complicated than she ever thought. That ghosts exist and only a few can see them and she is one of them.
What I love about this series is the humor in it. I find Rory to be hilarious. It’s a sort of a dry sense of humor that I appreciate. Despite the fact that they are in a middle of a pretty gruesome murder investigation, Miss Johnson keeps things light. The supporting characters are great. Jazza, Rory’s roommate, is sweet but I think also keeps the story in reality. Boo, Callum and Stephen, the other Shades of London may hunt down Ghosts but keep the good sense of humor about it. I also like the mystery side of the story. Who is the Jack the Ripper wannabe? Is he alive or dead? Rory may not be a detective and may be new to this whole seeing ghosts thing but she’s smart and pretty quick on the uptake. She may need rescue from time to time but she’s also not weak either.
So far the series has tackled what is death, person-hood and dealing with PTSD. The last one is important issue to tackle. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not new to YA literature. Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior have both suffered PTSD but they never really dealt with it. In the Madness Underneath, Rory has troubles dealing with the events of the Name of the Stars. Without going into what, I will say that Rory does seek therapy. First her parents have her in counseling and then she seeks other counseling. To say more will spoil the book so I will leave it at that but at least Rory is getting treatment for PTSD which is more then Katniss or Tris ever did.
So go read the Shades of London and fall in love with Rory and Stephen and Jazza and Boo. I think you all will like it.